Coming Intersection Of Global Trade Clashes, Food Cost Increases, And Climate Politics


Image credit:NOAA

Today's seminal Lester Brown post about China's escalating grain consumption and coming conflicts over trade and food prices - see Can the United States Feed China? - brought to mind related, climate-driven events in the US.

Back in February I wrote: "As we all can see by the latest Federal drought trend projections...Southern and Mid-Atlantic farmers face a likelihood of drier than normal conditions." In Texas, it is now being reported, indications are of many lost crops and lost beef production due to a drier regional climate (see graphic above for latest seasonal drought trend). To the north, in the Dakotas and Canada, crop losses may be high from the reverse climatic trend: excess soil moisture and flooding.Bloomberg reports in Worst Texas Drought in 44 Years Damaging Wheat Crop, Reducing Cattle Herds

Dry conditions extending to Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado may cut crop yields in the U.S., the world's largest exporter, [and] as too much moisture threatens fields in North Dakota and in Canada. Wheat futures in Chicago are up 50 percent in the past year, after drought in Russia and floods in Australia hurt output and sent global food prices surging. Wholesale beef reached a record this week, and the U.S. cattle herd in January was the smallest since 1958.
Can't blame drought on labor unions. Can't blame it on one or the other political party. Can't blame it on just conservatives or on just environmentalists, either. Climate change, however, is a unifying thread, with some related predetermined outcomes for 2011:

  • A lot more people are going to be wishing they had a nice backyard garden.

  • Fast food and junk foods will become less affordable for most Americans

  • Country mouse gonna teach city mouse how to hunt and fish.

  • Inflation is coming.

  • 'Give us this day our daily bread' takes on added meaning.

I would really like to see Texas, instead of Iowa, be the first Presidential primary state and have national commentators going from small town to small town, asking farmers and ranchers what they thought about climate change.

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